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Here's our thesis on climate

This week saw our research featured in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Nature.

In the Journal, Ted Nordhaus writes that the real climate debate isn’t really about the link between human development and greenhouse gases – it’s about different perspectives on the relationship between growth, risk, and emissions. A richer world, he argues, is more equipped to respond to climate extremes, uses lower-carbon energy sources, and is associated with a lower population growth. So we’ll probably respond to global warming like we do other big challenges: partially, incrementally, and prioritizing immediate goals like economic development.

And despite what some onlookers have said, a partial and incremental approach requires just as much policy ambition, if not more. As Zeke Hausfather and co-author Glen Peters argue in Nature, using more reasonable emissions scenarios makes for better climate policy. We’re most likely on track for 3 degrees of warming, which isn’t something to hang our hats on, but also isn’t as bad as many feared. A “what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen” mindset could lead to defeatism, not action, and obscures the more accurate story of the progress we’ve already made.

There’s plenty more progress to be made. Writing in the New York Times with Justin Gillis, Jameson McBride observes that even as public power has driven the fastest decarbonization historically, not all public institutions are leading the charge. As they document, while the Tennessee Valley Authority boasts a power mix that’s already more than half clean, environmental stewardship and accelerating deployment of clean energy have been on the back burner for years. Cleaning up their power mix all the way is achievable – but requires federal action.

Taken together, the three pieces do a decent job of summarizing our vision of climate and energy policy. As we have learned over the years, a non-apocalyptic climate politics paired with a pragmatic energy policy agenda can create generative policy progress and build growing coalitions in service of creating a brighter future.
A tale of two clocks
Last week, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists updated the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight — the closest it has ever been. 

Alex Trembath sees this clock as a true opposite of the Clock of the Long Now: "one engineered to actually function for generations, the other designed to metaphorically tick toward a frightening endpoint."

And yet both reorient humanity’s conception of time; both turn our gaze toward an imagined future. What that tells us about the answers to catastrophism.
A few ways to join our team
We're hiring! Check out our job board to find open positions for Operations Director and Nuclear Senior Analyst.
We're also excited to announce that applications for the annual summer Breakthrough Fellowship are open, due on Feb 11, 2020, at 11:59pm PT. Recent graduates and postgrads are invited to apply to join our research team for ten weeks this summer. Find all the details here.

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